A compromise bill that would, after much delay, pave the way for three medical marijuana compassion centers to open in Rhode Island passed the Senate overwhelmingly today by a vote of 35 to 3. The bill now heads to the House where it will be heard a week from today.
“We’ve worked since last summer to try to deal with the problems the governor felt we had,” said Sen. Rhoda Perry, a progressive Democrat from Providence, referencing the fact that Chafee declined to sign the original bill into law after threats of prosecution from the federal government.
Perry said limiting the amount of plants a compassion center can have on hand to 150, 99 of which can be mature, and the amount of processed cannabis to 1,500 ounces, or just under 94 pounds.
Perry said she expects the legislation will pass in the House when it is heard there next week.
“I feel pretty confident,” she said. “The Speaker and the Senate president have been on board with this.”
Perry said she doesn’t use pot herself, noting that she has heart rhythm problem that could be exacerbated by doing so, but she did have a nephew who died of complications related to AIDS who would have benefited from it. In fact, the bill is named in part for him.
“He wouldn’t dare use marijuana because he would have been afraid to get arrested,” she said. “He had great problems with nausea and wasting.”
The bill is called the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act. Hawkins is Perry’s nephew and Slater, a former state Rep., who passed away while he was in office, was a champion of medical marijuana issues. His son, Scott, who had a baby with his two days ago, now holds his seat in the House and sponsored that chamber’s version of the bill.